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 Report date: 31.10.1998


War remains a terrible reality, in which many people lose their loved ones. In this tragedy, and as far as possible, the ICRC tries to make a gesture, however small, to bring consolation to the families. In this aspect, the return of the bodies of the dead soldiers to their families is considered an important matter.

On 21.10.98, at the request of the authorities, the ICRC participated in the simultaneous handover of the mortal remains of soldiers of Azeri and Armenian origin respectively, who died in recent incidents on the front line.

The ICRC is regularly involved in such operations all over the world, which bears witness to the confidence placed in the organization. Here in Azerbaijan, the ICRCs role is to provide a neutral presence in the area where the liberation is taking place. It is not an easy task for the people involved on the spot in such an emotional operation, nor for the colleagues and superiors of the deceased military personnel. Neither is it easy for the families, who have already approached the ICRC to help them establish the whereabouts of their loved ones, and who have been requested by the authorities to identify the corpses. The families impatiently awaited the completion of the operation.

The delegates who are in contact with families of missing soldiers nevertheless feel the families' gratitude towards the ICRC for making the dignified return of the bodies of their beloved possible. In spite of the terrible experience of losing a son or brother, receiving their dead body and knowing their fate allows them to mourn.

Also in Afghanistan...

At the request of the Taliban authorities and with the consent of Commander Massouds forces, the ICRC transported four bodies from Bagram to Kabul on 30 October.

The ICRC aircraft left Kabul for Bagram carrying a delegate and 1,350 kg of medicines and other medical supplies for the hospitals and clinics in the Panjshir valley and on the Shamali plain. When it returned to Kabul the ICRC handed the mortal remains over to the city's health authorities.

The mortal remains were those of four members of the Taliban who had been held in the Panjshir valley and died in a road accident while being transferred by the detaining authorities.


Recently the ICRC has facilitated the repatriation of 2 prisoners who were held in relation with the conflict. One Armenian prisoner and one Azeri prisoner were released by the respective authorities. They were repatriated on 28 and 30 October at their own request, under the auspices of the ICRC, to Baku and Erevan respectively. On arrival they were re-united with their families.

Since May 94, many prisoners have been transferred to their place of origin with the assistance of the ICRC. The ICRC, on request of the authorities, is always ready to assist in this way to lend its support for the return of those persons.

From 1992, in accordance with its mandate, the ICRC has been visiting prisoners held in relation with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. The ICRC delegates who regularly visit the prisoners in order to assess the conditions of detention also facilitate the exchange of family news between the prisoners and their families. The prisoners always eagerly await the joyful moment when they receive their Red Cross Messages from the delegates.

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